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Humility and Absolute Surrender
By Andrew Murray
Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLCCopyright © 2011 Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC
All rights reserved.
Humility: The Glory of the Creature
They shall cast their crowns before the throne, saying: "Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power: for thou didst create all things, and because of thy will they were, and were created."—Rev. 4:11
When God created the universe, it was with the one object of making the creature partaker of his perfection and blessedness, and so showing forth in it the glory of his love and wisdom and power. God wished to reveal himself in and through created beings by communicating to them as much of his own goodness and glory as they were capable of receiving. But this communication was not a giving to the creature something which it could possess in itself, a certain life or goodness, of which it had the charge and disposal. By no means. But as God is the ever-living, ever-present, ever-acting One, who upholdeth all things by the word of his power, and in whom all things exist, the relation of the creature to God could only be one of unceasing, absolute, universal dependence. As truly as God by his power once created, so truly by that same power must God every moment maintain. The creature has not only to look back to the origin and first beginning of existence, and acknowledge that it there owes everything to God; its chief care, its highest virtue, its only happiness, now and through all eternity, is to present itself an empty vessel, in which God can dwell and manifest his power and goodness.
The life God bestows is imparted not once for all, but each moment continuously, by the unceasing operation of his mighty power. Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue.
And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil. It was when the now fallen angels began to look upon themselves with self-complacency that they were led to disobedience, and were cast down from the light of Heaven into outer darkness. Even so it was, when the serpent breathed the poison of his pride, the desire to be as God, into the hearts of our first parents, that they too fell from their high estate into all the wretchedness in which man is now sunk. In Heaven and earth, pride, self-exaltation, is the gate and the birth, and the curse, of Hell.
Hence it follows that nothing can be our redemption, but the restoration of the lost humility, the original and only true relation of the creature to its God. And so Jesus came to bring humility back to earth, to make us partakers of it, and by it to save us. In Heaven he humbled himself to become man. The humility we see in him, possessed him in Heaven; it brought him, he brought it, from there. Here on earth "he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death"[Phil. 2:8]; his humility gave his death its value, and so became our redemption. And now the salvation he imparts is nothing less and nothing else than a communication of his own life and death, his own disposition and spirit, his own humility, as the ground and root of his relation to God and his redeeming work. Jesus Christ took the place and fulfilled the destiny of man, as a creature, by his life of perfect humility. His humility is our salvation. His salvation is our humility.
And so the life of the saved ones, of the saints, must needs bear this stamp of deliverance from sin, and full restoration to their original state; their whole relation to God and man marked by an all-pervading humility. Without this there can be no true abiding in God's presence, or experience of his favor and the power of his Spirit; without this no abiding faith, or love or joy or strength. Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure. Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude before God, and allows him as God to do all.
God has so constituted us as reasonable beings, that the truer the insight into the real nature or the absolute need of a command, the readier and fuller will be our obedience to it. The call to humility has been too little regarded in the Church, because its true nature and importance has been too little apprehended. It is not a something which we bring to God, or he bestows; it is simply the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all , and in which we make way for God to be all. When the creature realizes that this is the true nobility, and consents to be with his will, his mind, and his affections, the form—the vessel—in which the life and glory of God are to work and manifest themselves, he sees that humility is simply acknowledging the truth of his position as creature, and yielding to God his place.
In the life of earnest Christians, of those who pursue and profess holiness, humility ought to be the chief mark of their uprightness. It is often said that it is not so. May not one reason be that in the teaching and example of the Church, it has never had that place of supreme importance which belongs to it? And that this, again, is owing to the neglect of this truth, that strong as sin is, as a motive to humility, there is one of still wider and mightier influence, that which makes the angels, that which made Jesus, that which makes the holiest of saints in Heaven, so humble; that the first and chief mark of the relation of the creature, the secret of his blessedness, is the humility and nothingness which leaves God free to be all?
I am sure there are many Christians who will confess that their experience has been very much like my own in this, that we had long known the Lord without realizing that meekness and lowliness of heart are to be the distinguishing feature of the disciple as they were of the Master. And further, that this humility is not a thing that will come of itself, but that it must be made the object of special desire and prayer and faith and practice. As we study the word, we shall see what very distinct and oft-repeated instructions Jesus gave his disciples on this point, and how slow they were in understanding him. Let us, at the very commencement of our meditations, admit that there is nothing so natural to man, nothing so insidious and hidden from our sight, nothing so difficult and dangerous, as pride. Let us feel that [as if] nothing but a very determined and persevering waiting on God and Christ will discover [show] how lacking we are in the grace of humility, and how impotent to obtain what we seek. Let us study the character of Christ until our souls are filled with the love and admiration of his lowliness. And let us believe that, when we are broken down under a sense of our pride, and our impotence to cast it out, Jesus Christ himself will come in to impart this grace too, as a part of his wondrous life within us.CHAPTER 2
Humility: The Secret of Redemption
Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant; and humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death. Wherefore God also highly exalted him.—Phil. 2:5–7
No tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang. Through all its existence it can only live with the life that was in the seed that gave it being. The full apprehension of this truth in its application to [both] the first and the Second Adam cannot but help us greatly to understand both the need and the nature of the redemption there is in Jesus.
The Need. When the Old Serpent, he who had been cast out from Heaven for his pride, whose whole nature as devil was pride, spoke his words of temptation into the ear of Eve, these words carried with them the very poison of Hell. And when she listened, and yielded her desire and her will to the prospect of being as God, knowing good and evil, the poison entered into her soul and blood and life, destroying forever that blessed humility and dependence upon God which would have been our everlasting happiness. And instead of this, her life and the life of the race that sprang from her became corrupted to its very root with that most terrible of all sins and all curses, the poison of Satan's own pride. All the wretchedness of which this world has been the scene, all its wars and bloodshed among the nations, all its selfishness and suffering, all its ambitions and jealousies, all its broken hearts and embittered lives, with all its daily unhappiness, have their origin in what this cursed, hellish pride, either our own, or that of others, has brought us. It is pride that made redemption needful; it is from our pride we need, above everything, to be redeemed. And our insight into the need of redemption will largely depend upon our knowledge of the terrible nature of the power that has entered our being.
No tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang. The power that Satan brought from Hell, and cast into man's life, is working daily, hourly, with mighty power throughout the world. Men suffer from it; they fear and fight and flee it; and yet they know not whence it comes, whence it has its terrible supremacy. No wonder they do not know where or how it is to be overcome. Pride has its root and strength in a terrible spiritual power, outside of us as well as within us; as needful as it is that we confess and deplore it as our very own, is it to know it, in its Satanic origin. If this leads us to utter despair of ever conquering or casting it out, it will lead us all the sooner to that supernatural power in which alone our deliverance is to be found—the redemption of the Lamb of God. The hopeless struggle against the workings of self and pride within us may indeed become still more hopeless as we think of the power of darkness behind it all; the utter despair will fit us the better for realizing and accepting a power and a life outside of ourselves too, even the humility of Heaven as brought down and brought nigh by the Lamb of God, to cast out Satan and his pride.
The Nature. No tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang. Even as we need to look to the first Adam and his fall to know the power of the sin within us, we need to know well the Second Adam and his power to give within us a life of humility as real and abiding and over-mastering as has been that of pride. We have our life from and in Christ, as truly, yea more truly, than from and in Adam. We are to walk "rooted in him," "holding fast the Head from whom the whole body increaseth with the increase of God." The life of God which in the incarnation entered human nature, is the root in which we are to stand and grow; it is the same almighty power that worked there, and thence onward to the resurrection, which works daily in us. Our one need is to study and know and trust the life that has been revealed in Christ as the life that is now ours, and waits for our consent to gain possession and mastery of our whole being.
In this view it is of inconceivable importance that we should have right thoughts of what Christ is, of what really constitutes him the Christ, and specially of what may be counted his chief characteristic, the root and essence of all his character as our Redeemer. There can be but one answer: it is his humility. What is the incarnation but his heavenly humility, his emptying himself and becoming man? What is his life on earth but humility; his taking the form of a servant? And what is his atonement but humility? "He humbled himself and became obedient unto death." And what is his ascension and his glory, but humility exalted to the throne and crowned with glory? "He humbled himself, therefore God highly exalted him." In Heaven, where he was with the Father, in his birth, in his life, in his death, in his sitting on the throne, it is all, it is nothing but humility. Christ is the humility of God embodied in human nature; the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us. As the love and condescension of God makes him the benefactor and helper and servant of all, so Jesus of necessity was the Incarnate Humility. And so he is still in the midst of the throne, the meek and lowly Lamb of God.
If this be the root of the tree, its nature must be seen in every branch and leaf and fruit. If humility be the first, the all-including grace of the life of Jesus—if humility be the secret of his atonement—then the health and strength of our spiritual life will entirely depend upon our putting this grace first too, and making humility the chief thing we admire in him, the chief thing we ask of him, the one thing for which we sacrifice all else.
Is it any wonder that the Christian life is so often feeble and fruitless, when the very root of the Christ life is neglected, is unknown? Is it any wonder that the joy of salvation is so little felt, when that in which Christ found it and brings it, is so little sought? Until a humility which will rest in nothing less than the end and death of self; which gives up all the honor of men as Jesus did, to seek the honor that comes from God alone; which absolutely makes and counts itself nothing, that God may be all, that the Lord alone may be exalted—until such a humility be what we seek in Christ above our chief joy, and welcome at any price, there is very little hope of a religion that will conquer the world.
I cannot too earnestly plead with my reader, if possibly his attention has never yet been specially directed to the want there is of humility within him or around him, to pause and ask whether he sees much of the spirit of the meek and lowly Lamb of God in those who are called by His name. Let him consider how all want of love, all indifference to the needs, the feelings, the weakness of others; all sharp and hasty judgments and utterances, so often excused under the plea of being outright and honest; all manifestations of temper and touchiness and irritation; all feelings of bitterness and estrangement—have their root in nothing but pride, that ever seeks itself, and his eyes will be opened to see how a dark, shall I not say, a devilish pride, creeps in almost everywhere, the assemblies of the saints not excepted. Let him begin to ask what would be the effect, if in himself and around him, if towards fellow-saints and the world, believers were really permanently guided by the humility of Jesus; and let him say if the cry of our whole heart, night and day, ought not to be, "Oh for the humility of Jesus in myself and all around me!" Let him honestly fix his heart on his own lack of the humility which has been revealed in the likeness of Christ's life, and in the whole character of his redemption, and he will begin to feel as if he had never yet really known what Christ and his salvation is.
Believer! Study the humility of Jesus. This is the secret, the hidden root of thy redemption. Sink down into it deeper day by day. Believe with thy whole heart that this Christ, whom God has given thee, even as his divine humility wrought the work for thee, will enter in to dwell and work within thee too, and make thee what the Father would have thee be.CHAPTER 3
The Humility of Jesus
I am in the midst of you as he that serveth.—Luke 22:26
In the Gospel of John we have the inner life of our Lord laid open to us. Jesus speaks frequently of his relation to the Father, of the motives by which he is guided, of his consciousness of the power and spirit in which he acts. Though the word "humble" does not occur, we shall nowhere in Scripture see so clearly wherein his humility consisted. We have already said that this grace is in truth nothing but that simple consent of the creature to let God be all, in virtue of which it surrenders itself to his working alone. In Jesus we shall see how both as the Son of God in Heaven, and as man upon earth, he took the place of entire subordination, and gave God the honor and the glory which is due to him. And what he taught so often was made true to himself: "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." [Luke 14:11] As it is written, "He humbled Himself, therefore God highly exalted Him."
Excerpted from Humility and Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray. Copyright © 2011 Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC.
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